Top tips to a fun family Road Trip

With holidays costing more money during the school holidays, families are opting for road trips as an alternative to flying to far-away destinations. More and more families prefer to stay away from airports all together and use the car instead for half term breaks and even longer holidays.

A road trip can be a great bonding experience but spending too much time together in a car definitely has its challenges. 

Here are London Mums’ top tips to a fun family Road Trip.

Movie inspiration

Before planning your road trip I recommend you to watch Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul with the kids.

It’s hilarious and might inspire you one way or another. In this movie The Heffley family road trip to Granma’s 90th birthday celebration takes a wild detour thanks to Greg’s newest scheme to attend a video gaming convention. This crazy, cross-country adventure turns into an experience The Heffleys will never forget. 


Pack Lots of Things to Keep Your Kids Occupied

Toys, DVD players, tablets and books were named by parents as the best distractions for little ones during lengthy trips. I recommend packing a variety of things, as we all know how quickly kids can become bored, but remember there’s always I-Spy!

Prepare a backpack full of activities and goodies for every child including games and apps but don’t go overboard. As all mums know, it’s easily done. For the youngest children,do your research on Mobile Apps for Entertainment for those kids who really want some screen time. You don’t need to only think of video games. Movies are great too. After all families around the world have been taking road trips long before the advent of the mobile phone or iPads, and parents have always found ways to keep their kids entertained to avoid any backseat boredom. I remember long road trips when I was a young girl from Bologna to Sicily in car and my parents played lots of music, i.e. Julio Iglesias, Barbra Streisand, Disco Samba … and I often wondered why I knew so many lyrics of music that I have barely listened to in the past 30 years. There are some classic car games such as I Spy, a guessing game where the first player says “I spy with my little eye something…” then gives a clue to something they can see. For cross-region or cross – country trips, playing the car plate game is a great way to pass the time and help school-aged kids learn the names of all the cities or countries.

For those young children who don’t suffer travel sickness there are lots of books to choose from. Here are some suggestions:

Children’s picture books 

P is for Paris by Paul Thurlby

Paris up, up and away – A unique picture book and a poetic tribute to the City of Light


Take Breaks Every Couple of Hours

It’s understandable that you want to get there quickly, but taking regular breaks is important for everyone in the vehicle. Even if it’s just pulling into a quiet car park to stretch your legs, make a stop at least every two hours to keep everyone refreshed.

Build some stretching routines to do all together during the breaks. Make it fun and easy that everybody can do on a tune that all family members love. That song can then become the soundtrack of the road trip. You can pick a great scenic pull-off where you can stop with your family and enjoy a roadside snack while stretching your legs as well as take pictures to add to the scrapbook.


Dance the Hours Away with the Kids

Nothing dissolves the tension of a long family road trip like a Beyoncé karaoke session! Most kids like to bop away to the latest pop tunes in the car, so load up your music player with sing-along hits. 


Have a Packet of Ginger Biscuits Handy

Ginger is a natural remedy for nausea, so have a packet of ginger biscuits ready in your glove compartment. Hand them to your kids regularly to stop travel sickness in its tracks.


Pack plenty of food and drinks in individual portions

When your children are getting bored, the last thing you need is for them to be hungry too! Keep a selection of snacks and drinks in a cool bag by the passenger seat. It’s also wise to avoid foods that can melt or become sticky, or fizzy drinks that can cause a mess.


Younger children get bored and restless easily sitting through long period of time watching a dull and flat scenery. Eating a fast-food-only diet for too long can make anybody feel lethargic and cranky. Make sure packed lunches include fresh fruit, bread and proteins. Careful of not blowing the budget on food, though. Snacks are big budget killers on road trips but they are very much needed. Buy healthy crisps and dried fruit in economy-sized bags from supermarkets before travelling.

Bring coolers, because they can be useful to store leftovers or food from supermarkets where you find lovely snacks on the road.

Prepare healthy sandwiches. Get some inspiration from the London Mums’ recipe archive.


How to make a Rabbit sandwich


How to make a Dog sandwich


When All Else Fails, Bring On the Bribery

If there’s ever a time for bribery, it’s in the last hour of an arduous journey with your kids when their patience has truly ran out. Whether you promise them a slice of chocolate cake, or a dip in the pool when you arrive at your destination, there’s no shame in persuading your kids to hang in there for just a little longer!


Create memories 

Create a travel scrapbook as you go along filled with littles souvenirs like tickets, shells and other quirky little items that remind you of the trip as well as photographs. Bring a shoes box for every child to put their own keepsakes. This activity will keep kids busy for while even after returning home and will create memories that will last a lifetime.


Travel essentials

Check out London Mums’ archive features filled with items we have tested and recommended:

Summer travel essentials

Summer essentials 2017

Summer Essentials 2015


Travel with kids destinations for families from London


Roadtrip to France

5 Things to do en route to Disneyland Paris

The top 10 holiday activities to do before you’re 15

A hidden quarter of Paris

Mini Guide to Paris – Travelling to Paris with kids


Ensure the car is good to go

Last but not least, avoid having problems on the road when you are away from your trusted mechanic. Get the car checked well ahead of going away. At the moment Halfords is running a convenient offer: When you buy any product from a Halfords shop you can get a free £54.85 MOT from over 300 Halfords Autocentres across the UK.

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